panbiogeography as science

John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Wed May 12 23:19:46 CDT 1999


Fred Rickson asserted that panbiogeographic hypotheses of
 "missing geology" such as land bridges, or centers
of origin in the middle of oceans, or tracks drawn as if there were
individuals found between current distributions, is the reason that
panbiogeography cannot be tested by any empirical method.

I think Fred Rickson is incorrect in this assertion. Testing is a philosophical
concept, and there are various views presented by philosophers of science
on testing. The testability of panbiogeography might depend on which
philosophy of science is being applied.

In terms of the research program, panbiogeography as a methodology is
not testible. It is the program that determines how research is carried out.
However, that research is open to testing, not in terms of refutation, but
by corroboration. Track analysis by Croizat led to a number of
specific predictions about the geological structure of certain areas
(e.g. America, South East Asia). These predictions were made before
the geological information was available. Since the predictions conflicted
with the then current geology, some might view the biogeography as
refuted (i.e. geology is the decision maker about the past), but since
then, geologists have confirmed at least some of the geological structures
predicted to have existed. So the predictions were about empirical facts, and
they were testable in the sense that geologists or biogeographers could
determine whether or not such features existed. In these cases they did.

So its premature at best to conclude that panbiogeography "just isn't
science".

John Grehan




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